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And to the listening skies,
From cherub choirs arise
Strains of soft melody while mortals sleep.
Most beautiful! Most blest !
Israel's enchanting rest!
On thee thy God has lavished every grace.
Earth's brightest skies are thine,
And heaven's own features shine
Softly reflected in thy smiling face.
Thy vales are robed with corn;
And plenty from her horn
Pours oil and wine, that face and heart may glow.
Thy clouds, in fragrant showers,
Drop choicest fruits and flowers ;
And all thy rills with milk and honey flow.
Thy laughing fields rejoice ;
And, with a merry voice,
The living landscape chaunts to praise its King.
The rivers clap their hands;
And, ranged in choir-like bands,
The hillocks dance, and dells and forests sing.
Though on thy blessed plains
The godless heathen reigns,
And giant-peopled cities reach the skies :
Though lustful monsters foul
Their impious orgies howl,
And fanes to hell's accursed demons rise :
Soon, soon shall Israel's song,
In cborus deep and long,
O'er their crushed fields and smoking cities ring;
And thousand echoes round
With thundering voice resound,
Jehovah, Israel's God, and Canaan's King.
Nitocris sleeping. Rameses, Physician, Arsinoe, and another Lady.
Physician.—How fares the princess ?
Arsinoe.—Like a broken lily,
She fades and withers. Parted from her stem,
She blooms awhile in all her former beauty,
Then droops her head, and dies.
Rameses. She has slept long
And sweetly. Is it not a happy sign?
Physician.—What was her state before she slept ?
Arsinoe.- A sad one:
Drooping and melancholy as you've seen her,
Fearless, unconscious, speechless, motionless,
She sat a living alabaster statue,
Living, yet deathlike; nor had moved her eye
Since torn by force from her lord's breathless body.
At midnight I observed a change. Her eyelids
Sunk slowly, till at length they closed; and then
She fell asleep; her features soon relaxed;
And took the placid form in which you see them.
Rameses.--May she not wake, recovered ?
Is doubtful. Haply, consciousness and reason
May be restored; but for her life I fear.
Keep all around her quiet. Let no sound,
No cause of terror shake her with alarm.
It would be fatal to her.
Rameses and Physician go out.
Who finds a refuge from these troublous times
In blank forgetfulness; more to be envied
In that deep stupor, than when she awakes
To reason and to memory.
Poor lady! In that awful night were made
Thousands of widows, childless sires, and orphans.
Arsinoe.-Thousands ? I think all that was noble died And nought remains behind, save the poor
Of the once goodly world. I can but weep,
And never shall taste pleasure more.
Is one vast tomb, o'ercrowded with the dead.
But hush! She stirs.
Arsinoe.—'Twas but your fancy. See !
She lies quite still. -Know you of this new war
That Pharaoh purposes ?
Lady.—They say he gathers
All force together to pursue the Hebrews.
Do you not think 'tis madness ?
He who destroyed the flower and pride of Egypt
one short hour, will laugh at swords and spears,
And chariots and horsemen.
Lady.-Hark! A shout!
A tumult! What is that?
Arsinde. It is the army.
You may distinguish clash of arms, and sound
Lady.-See, the noise has reached the princess,
And she is waking: may it be to health !
Nitocris.—Where am I? Tell me, dearest, what's the matter.
Methought I was asleep in a cool grot
By the sea-shore, bright nymphs dancing around me.
Then a wild troop of hideous sea-monsters
Rushed suddenly among them, and they slew,
Till their red blood dyed all the sands.-Ha! look !
They come! They come! Save me, O save me!
How wild she looks ! Her mind yet wanders. Lady,
How feel you?
Nitocris.-Hush! Speak softly.--He's asleep.
I feel my head is wrong-but yet I know you.
Lady-Poor sufferer. She still thinks of the prince.
And see that vacant stare, that idiot-like,
Unconscious look. Her reason is unseated.
Arsinoe.-She sleeps again.
Lady.—No, her lips move. She speaks.
Nitocris.- Is the feast ready? Ladies, bring my robes.
Quick, quick, quick, quick-we must not keep them waiting.
Lend me your arm.
WITHOUT THE GATES OF MEMPHIS :
TO THE CATACOMBS.
A multitude of funeral processions meeting. Vast crowds pressed
together, uttering loud outcries.
First Egyptian.—Meet with what man you will, he is a mourner. There is no house death hath not entered.—All, From high to low; the prince, the slave; man, beast ; All have alike been stricken. The ravenous grave, Till now insatiate, loathes its proffered food, And cries, “Too much !” Death, wearied out with slaughter, And pitying human woes, lies down inactive.
Second Egyptian.—Children should mourn their fathers. Parents now
Bury their children: and death reaps a green
And unripe harvest. O my son ! my son !
Would I had died instead of thee!
Third Egyptian.—And I!
My darling child! How many years I waited,
And longed, and prayed! The blessing came at last.
My cherished one! The terrible Destroyer
Seized on his victim; and I saw it gasp,
And writhe, and stiffen; saw its eye-balls start,
Its limbs convulsed; till death ended its tortures.
Fourth Egyptian.- What is your grief to mine?
My child and heir,
My pride, my hero, grown to manly age,
Wooed, wed: and ere the day was closed, he died.
First Egyptian.—Hear the continuous cry, one piercing, long,
Unbroken wail from all this multitude.
Such griefs as we have, burden every house
In this vast empire. To the farthest bounds
Of Egypt, all the air is thick with groans
As here in Memphis. Round about the city
Are numberless huge pits, into which corpses
Are tossed by thousands, unembalmed,
Unmourned. Since the beginning of the world,
Never such wholesale slaughter has been seen.
Wars, famines, pestilences, are but jests
And trifles. In a hundred years
Egypt will not recover that night's plague.
Second Egyptian.- What troops march here?
First Egyptian.-Hark to that cry!
Second Egyptian.—They say
Pharaoh pursues the Hebrews.
First Egyptian.-Tyrant! Madman ! He rushes on his fate. Hear! It begins !
A voice.-Down with the tyrant! Long live Amenophis !
First Egyptian.—The shout increases. A multitude together.-Down with the tyrant! Long live Amenophis !
Pharaoh (alone).—The dangers multiply; and threatnings come
From every side at once.—Why, let them come!
They say the omens all are inauspicious ;
The soothsayers forbid this expedition ;
And messengers come thick from the magicians,
And priests, beseeching, wearying me to change
My purpose. 'Tis in vain. My mind is fixed.
Enter magicians and priests.
What says the oracle ?
Priest.- A sad response :
Denouncing woes on Pharaoh and on Egypt;
But peace and victory to Israel.
Pharaoh.-So! It is well! The universe against me-
Heaven, earth, and hell.—I'll seek no farther knowledge.
Pharaoh will be his own god, his own fate.
Let no man seek to turn me.
First Priest (apart.)— This is madness.
How can he hope for conquest, or escape ?
What think you of it?
Second Priest.—That the gods have doomed him.
Pharaoh.--Henceforth I am Egypt's god, and oracle ;
And will be worshipped. Curees on the Hebrews !
Heaven hurl its hottest thunderbolts, and pour
Thick storms and tempests on them. Hell
Its black enchantments to ensnare their steps.
Earth swallow them alive. Each constellation
With ray malignant shoot athwart their path,
And doom them to destruction! Now begone!
We march by the first light of morning.
Pharaoh (alone).–Fools !
Fools! Do they think to make me bend or falter?
No, I am resolute and fixed.
Nor god can turn me—no, not even this load
That weighs my spirit down into the earth.
Pharaoh-Rameses! Why that haggard countenance ?
What new misfortune has befallen me ? Speak!
I am prepared.